French Resistance after the war

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Rodger Herbst
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French Resistance after the war

Post by Rodger Herbst » Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:34 am

It seems that the French Resistance had more than one party and they didn't get along too well. After the war there seemed to be a lot of finger pointing to discredit each other and a lot of it was of a personal nature that to me was getting even for past arguments. Some of the stories that one hears or reads about seems close to murder to me,anybody know how true this is?

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resistance

Post by haen2 » Sun Jul 02, 2006 11:52 am

When the war was over, there was a remarkable discovery made:
ALL French people had been a member of the resistance.
ALL French people had loved, and tried to rescue jewish people.
ALL French people hated les Boches.
And NOBODY had ever collaborated with the occupying German army.
If you dont believe it, just ask them '.
:[] :[] :oops: :oops: 8) 8) :(
HN
Last edited by haen2 on Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
joined forum early spring of 2002 as Haen- posts: legio :-)

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Jul 02, 2006 12:08 pm

Rodger - youre quite right! Apparently the Resistance was a amalgam of something like 23 or 26 diffferent flavours of political party! Including 8 different Communist parties! together with the various Maquis units operating (and drilling and starving slowly) under separate but cohesive military command sturctures. Together with the armed smugglers in the French Alps running across lake leman. For the first year post-Armistice they spent more time carving lumps out of each other over limited arms supplies, turf wars etc., and the SOE 's biggest job was to bring them under SOME sort of central "control" (hah!) for the opurposes of arms distribution. Even then the SOE had little actual control over Resistance operations, spending more time trying to stop them all turning their London-supplied guns or each other! Again, there's no cohesive history of this, but if you get a copy of the book behind the film "Is PAris Burning?" it gives a pretyy good account of the infoighting and rivalry between the Communists, the Socialists and the "legitimate" Free French Government that was in palce to take over the city in its last German days.
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Post by Laurent Daniel » Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:52 pm

:roll:
Regards
Daniel Laurent

Paddy Keating

Post by Paddy Keating » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:09 am

A lot of French people are revisionist when it comes to French history in relation to WW2 and the in-fighting and score-settling that took place during and after the liberation, right up to the end of the 1940s in some parts of France.

There were brave Frenchmen and women who actively resisted the Germans and the French collaborationists. Some of these served in the FFI, FTP, AS and other resistance movements, including ad hoc groups of political fugitives from Franco's Spain, stranded in France in 1940, and even criminal gangs forced to seek refuge in the maquis as a result of increasingly aggressive Franco-German policing methods in a France newly unfettered by human rights considerations and due legal process.

Others served as regular soldiers, sailors and airmen with de Gaulle's expatriate FFL. However, the vast majority of ordinary people just tried to get on with their lives as best they could and many resented resistance activities because they increasingly provoked savage German reprisals.

Some young Frenchmen joined the LVF and other French units in the German armed forces in order to fight against Bolchevism and Stalinism on the Eastern Front, thereby taking the struggle against Stalin to his front yard, so to speak. They were also responding in many cases to the anti-socialist message beaten into them by the Catholic clergy who ran education in France at the time.

Others joined the "new" French Army, the formation of which by Pétain - le 1er Régiment de France etc - infuriated Hitler and led, ultimately, to the German occupation of Vichy France in July 1942. And then there were those who joined altogether more sinister organisations like the Milice and the Police allemande. There were even units composed largely of French North Africans roaming the countryside in SD uniforms with a brief to terrorise the local population into not supporting resistance fighters.

Were these men traitors to France? Many French people would tell you that they were but they were employees of the legitimate French government of the day, headed by Marshall Pétain. Of course, when you say things like this to French revisionists, whose view was summarised neatly if rather brutally by HaEn, they tend to react very badly. France's WW2 history is a complicated one and hard to judge with any real objectivity.

PK

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Re: resistance

Post by Pirx » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:37 am

haen2 wrote:When the war was over, there was a remarkable discovery made:
ALL French people had been a member of the resistance.
ALL French people had loved, and tried to rescue jewish people.
ALL French people hated les Boches.
And NOBODY had ever collaborated with the occupying German army.
If you dont believe it, just ask them '.
:[] :[] :oops: :oops: 8) 8) :(
HN
This happen almost in each occupied country: Czechoslovakia, Poland, The Netherlands ect.
France wasn't different.

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Rodger Herbst
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Post by Rodger Herbst » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:49 am

Thanks guys for your imput, I think i've come to realize that the French Resistance movement can be a very complicated issue. Some of the things i've read or heard about were resistance members accuse some people of being collaberators when it was just to get even on a personal level,in fact some people where hanged or otherwise killed, am i wrong?

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Post by Laurent Daniel » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:46 am

In June 1944, there were about 100,000 recorded members of the French Resistance.
The number increased rapidly after Overlord, but those figures may be considered as irrelevant as a part of them were obvious "25th hour resistants". Many of them however joined the French regular Army that accounted for about 500,000 soldiers in May 45 in Germany.

Those "recorded" resistants were helped by quite a number of people who never fought but provided intelligence, shelter, food and that sort of things. Number unknown.

Thanks to the action of Jean Moulin, the Charles de Gaulle representative in France, all the various organisations of the Resistance were unified under the umbrella of the CNR (National Resistance Council) created on May 27, 1943. Moulin paid that success with his life and died from the Gestapo tortures.

Aside from Moulin and his two assistants, Pierre Meunier and Robert Chambeiron, there were representatives of eight other French resistance movements, members of six of France's major political parties and two trade unions present at the conference. Pierre Villon of the Front National, Roger Coquoin of Ceux de la Libération, Jacques Lecompte-Boinet (Ceux de la Résistance), Charles Laurent (Liberation-Nord), Pascal Copeau of Liberation-Sud, Jacques-Henri Simon of Organisation Civile et Militaire, Claude Bourdet of Combat, and Eugène Claudius-Petit of Franc-Tireur were all present, as well as representatives of the two large pre-war trade unions, Louis Saillant for the Confédération générale du travail and Gaston Tessier for the Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens.

In addition to these men were representatives from the six main political parties of the French Third Republic: André Mercier of the French Communist Party, André Le Troquer of the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (Socialists), Marc Rucart for the Radical-Socialists, Georges Bidault of the Parti démocrate populaire (the Christian Democrats, Bidault was the successor of Moulin after his death), Joseph Laniel for l'Alliance démocratique, and Jacques Debu-Bridel of the Fédération républicaine.

Those men, for a while, put aside their political differences and remained united, under the unanymously accepted leadership of Charles de Gaulle. The political fights started back immediately after the Liberation.

Concerning the fighting units, they were (Globally) members of 2 main units : The FTP (Francs Tireurs et Partisans, headed by the communists) and the AS (Secret Army, grouping more or less everybody else), both under the umbrella of the FFI (French Forces of the Interior), the fighting arm of the CNR.
There are no recorded instances of intra-resistance armed fights.

In the other camp, about the same number of men and women joined the armed collaboration forces.
For details about them:
In english:
http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=7259
In french, but much more complete:
http://www.histoquiz-contemporain.com/H ... ssiers.htm

So about 100,000 each side. But considering the volunteers who joined the Free French forces outside France, also roughly 100,000 in June 44, the Resistance outnumbered the Collaboration as far as armed forces are concerned.

Concerning the way Charles de Gaulle "took power" in Paris in August 1944, one should know that:
- The GPRF (Provisional French Republic Government) formed in Algiers in 1943 was recognized by all the Allied countries as the representative of France, including, very late but including, the USA.
- The GPRF was recognised in 1943 by the FFL and the FFI, i.e 100% of the French who stood up to fight the Germans.
- The GRPF was recognised by the French Colonial Army stationed in Africa and North Africa, they were all burning to go back to France and fight the Germans.

Now, the exagerations of the number of resistance after war wasn't created by some sort of French arrogance. Only the people who totally lack of historical knowledge or have some sort of agenda can state such things.

Immediately afyer the Liberation, Charles de Gaulle started to do what was to be done: Put back France at work in a unified atmosphere, turn the page and go ahead.
- He stopped the "epuration sauvage" (Wild political cleansing of the collaborators).
- He expedited as fast as possible the legal epuration.
- He disarmed the Communists resistance group and sent them back home or into the regular army.
- He, on purpose, pushed for the French Unity propaganda that generated the image of "40 millions Resistants" the replaced the previous one of "40 millions Petainists".
And it was a success, the wound of the cvil war were healed rather quickly.

Today, the "How and why" of those exagerations are well known to any one who take the pain to read the works of contemporary historians. Unfortunatley, most of them are in French and I can understand why some foreigners are still mirred into post-war legends.

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Post by sid guttridge » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:22 am

Hi Rodger,

The diversity of the French resistance is absolutely typical of the situation throughout occupied Europe. There was always a Communist/"others" split in every country and the "others" were invariably multiply split amongst themselves, in the monarchies usually including republican versus monarchist factions.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:30 am

Rodger, yes in answer to your specific question. There was a lot of personal wrong-righting done, grievances going back tot eh inter-party fighting. The esaiest way to get rid of ones opponents was of course during the war simply to inform on them. Then "someone else" did the dirty work and took the responsibility....so of course there was a lot.....

phylo
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Christian
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Post by Christian » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:40 am

Thanks guys for your imput, I think i've come to realize that the French Resistance movement can be a very complicated issue. Some of the things i've read or heard about were resistance members accuse some people of being collaberators when it was just to get even on a personal level,in fact some people where hanged or otherwise killed, am i wrong?
Hi Rodger.

The answer to your question is a definite yes and was it was in no way limited to political infighting. A lot of personal and private scores where settled this way after the war among citizens...

Cheers,

Christian

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Post by Laurent Daniel » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:29 am

Hi Christian,
Christian wrote:A lot of personal and private scores where settled this way after the war among citizens...
That's right, totally right, at least for France and it's "Epuration sauvage".
A number of "25th hour resistants" took advantage of the semi-anarchy that followed for few months, sometimes few weeks, the Liberation to "settle" some private accounts.

From the figures I have, about 10,000 people were summarily executed during the "Epuration Sauvage" end 1944. From waht the records say, at least 30% of them were not "real" collaborators.

The majority of those executions were not performed by the Resistance.

4 years of tyranny, fears and frustrations and here we are : Homo homine lupus. Whatever (Huge, I know) sufferings the British people had to face during WW2, they had a luck: The Nazis couldn't cross the Channel and the UK was never occupied. Otherwise, they would have, today, to face the same sort of painfull record.
Regards
Daniel Laurent

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Post by sid guttridge » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:39 am

Hi Daniel,

That is very likely true. Similar issues of collaboration on a much smaller scale, but without similar physical retribution, arose in the Channel Islands, the only occupied British territory in Europe.

The title of a French book on the German occupation of the Channel Islands - "Vichy sur Mer" (Vichy-on-Sea) gives a hint of this.

Cheers,

Sid.

Paddy Keating

Post by Paddy Keating » Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:29 am

A very good, clear summary from Daniel Laurent. Mind you, many FTP veterans felt that their efforts - the 'Battle of St-Denis' being a case in point - were rather 'overlooked' by the Gaullists after the war and that they were airbrushed out of the historical picture because of the Communist leanings of many FTP fighters and commanders. As a Frenchman, does Daniel feel this to be a fair grievance?

Moulin was indeed murdered by Klaus Barbie, the head of the Gestapo in Lyons. Barbie got into trouble with his superiors for beating Moulin to death before he could be more professionally interrogated and was never promoted beyond the rank of Captain as a result. However, Moulin was captured by Barbie as a result of betrayal by French resistants. The identity of those who betrayed him has always been the subject of ferocious debate in France, sometimes ending up in the courts because of the need to protect the sacred reputations of certain French resistance heroes about whom movies have been made, ete etc... But the main thing is that Moulin was turned in by people who considered themselves patriots but who were very much following an agenda of their own.

PK

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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Jul 04, 2006 2:55 am

Hi Paddy,

I must correct a couple of errors in your earlier post.

The formation of the "Armee Nouvelle" by Petain did not infuriate Hitler. Indeed, it was Hitler who framed its composition under the Armistice Commission, basing it on the 100,000 man army Versailles had imposed upon Germany in 1919. This is indicated by its more commonly used name, "L'Armee de L'Armistice".

If I remember rightly, 1er Regiment de France did not exist at the time of the German occupation of Vichy France in November 1942. It was formed, again with German approval, the following year, as a sort of presidential guard for Petain.

Cheers,

Sid.

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